By Cassie MacDuff, September 13, 2013
Widening of 215 freeway in San Bernardino
If you ask Inland residents what would most improve their quality of life, many will say traffic and transportation are what need fixing.
A survey by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, of his constituents found their top transportation priorities are expanding freeways and commuter rail.
An annual survey by the San Bernardino Associated Governments shows that, after crime and job opportunities, traffic and public transportation rank as the worst things about living here.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission doesn’t do a survey. But if it did, the results would probably be similar. Traffic might rank even higher.
Thankfully, a lot of work is being done to improve the area’s freeways.
But there will be a lot of pain before we gain relief.
Inland freeways are abuzz with construction. While it’s going on, motorists contend with lane closures, ramp closures, detours — and more congestion.
The suffering is almost over for motorists on Interstate 215 in San Bernardino. The widening turned the freeway into a curving, twisting, shape-shifting nightmare for the past six years. But construction is slated to complete in January 2014.
Now, people who commute between Riverside County and San Bernardino County on I-215 are feeling the pain. Widening that stretch required first narrowing it:
Between Highgrove and Grand Terrace, lanes have shrunk from 12 feet to 11 feet. Shoulders are walled off by K-rails.
When there’s an accident or stalled vehicle, there is no shoulder to pull off onto. Traffic grinds to a crawl as everyone squeezes around the stopped vehicle(s).
Relief will come about a year from now, when a new carpool lane in each direction will open.
Meanwhile, the pace is picking up for work on the crowded Highway 91.
From downtown Riverside to Auto Center Drive, a carpool lane is being added in each direction.
From I-15 to the Orange County line, two toll lanes will be added each direction to link with the OC toll lanes.Groundbreaking is set for Dec. 11, said John Standiford, deputy executive director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission.
SANBAG is considering whether to add two toll lanes in each direction on I-10 from Redlands to the Los Angeles County line, and on I-15 from Highway 60 to Sierra Avenue and through the Cajon Pass to Highway 395.
Tolls would generate enough revenue to build two lanes in each direction, said Garry Cohoe, SANBAG’s freeway chief. Otherwise, there’s only enough money to pay for one carpool lane in each direction.
SANBAG has recruited community advisory groups to act as ambassadors for the projects, since toll lanes will be new to commuters in San Bernardino County (Riverside County commuters are already know the concept).
The ambassadors are expected to tell their peers about the plans and get their reactions to bring it back to SANBAG. Such community buy-in is crucial for toll lanes, said Stephanie Wiggins, who oversaw the launch of the new toll lanes on the 110 freeway for LA Metro.